May 13, 2018

Jeremiah

1. Have you ever been in a situation where you were unjustly accused of something but didn’t have the power to help yourself? I sure have! I also know what it’s like to have someone come and offer support, affirmation and to speak for me. I have known mentors and congregational leaders who have done this and I am grateful for them. In faith defining moments when it wasn’t the popular thing to do I have been offered a hand to lift me up.

2. Our faith defining moment today focuses on the time when the prophet Jeremiah discovered that there was someone willing to lift him out of the mud when no one else would. To set the stage let me offer a brief historical background. The year is 587 B.C. and the place is Jerusalem. By the way, this is real history you can read about it in any reputable history book. The army of the King of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem. During the siege God spoke to Jeremiah and gave him a word for His people. He instructed Jeremiah to tell them to surrender to the Babylonians because if they did they would live. If not they would be destroyed. This message was seen as treasonous by those around the King of Judah so he was arrested and thrown into a cistern and left to die. It was in this faith defining moment that Ebed-melek came to his rescue and pleaded with the king to release him.

3. Today with Ebed-melek’s help we learn how God delivers us during moments when we are trapped and there seems to be no way out. We also learn how we can be an Ebed-melek for those in need of deliverance. There is much for us to learn from this faith defining moment that brought Jeremiah and Ebed-melek together.

I. Call for the courage

I. The first thing we learn is faith defining moments sometimes call for the courage to do the right but hard thing.

1. We see courage in Jeremiah 38:7-8 where we read, “While the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate, Ebed-Melek went out of the palace and said to him, “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death…” To go and place this request before the king had to be terrifying. The king had turned Jeremiah over to his accusers and now Ebed-melek has the audacity to challenge his ruling. I’m sure in the midst of war, siege and famine that people had lost their heads for less. Still in this sobering faith defining moment he had the courage to stand up for Jeremiah.

2. There is raw courage in this faith defining moment when others had attacked Jeremiah. Yet in the midst of it all Ebed-melek not only spoke for Jeremiah he dared call what was done wicked. He dared to stand with Jeremiah when doing so meant risking his own status, position, power and ultimately his life. This is the friend that you want with you when you are trapped and there appears to be no way out. He is the friend spoken of in Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

3. There is a word in this for us. We too will have faith defining moments in life. There will come a time when we will have to choose to do the right thing even when everyone else has bailed out. If you wonder where this courage comes from we only have to look to Jesus. His willingness to do the right thing for us required the greatest act of courage this world has seen. His courage cost Him His place in eternity with God. It cost Him the pain of the cross but it meant setting us free. This greatest act of courage was really the greatest act of love ever expressed. He did this because as Psalm 103:14, 17 tells us, “He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust…But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and his righteousness with their children’s children…”

II. Respond to the needs of others with compassion

II. Ebed-melek’s actions help us to understand that faith defining moments sometime call for us to respond to the needs of others with compassion.

1. The compassion Ebed-melek had for Jeremiah is evident in verses 11-12. See if you can see what I see in this passage. “So Ebed-Melek…took some old rags and worn-out clothes from there and let them down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. Ebed-Melek the Cushite said to Jeremiah, “Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.” Do you see it? Before he tried to save Jeremiah he thought through how not to hurt him. He knew he was stuck in the mud and that Jeremiah was weak so he took this into account.

2. There is a great lesson in this passage especially for us when we feel compassion for others. We need to remember that our help can hurt if we aren’t careful. We need to make sure that compassion is healing and freeing not damaging. This is especially true for us as we minister here in our context. Isaiah’s prophetic words about the Messiah, Jesus Christ, are a great reminder to us. Of Him he said:

  • “He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice…”Isaiah 42:2-3
  • “For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.” Psalm 72:12-14

3. As we consider Ebed-melek in his faith defining moment we need to remember we will also have our times. What I would suggest to us is that we need to pray ahead of time for both compassion and wisdom as we seek to minister. Then we can minister effectively to those we love and those that God calls us to touch with a heart of compassion.

III. God’s intervention and our participation

III. Ebed-melek’s actions help us to understand that faith defining moments require God’s intervention and our participation.

1. We see this so powerfully in the moment that Jeremiah was delivered. God powerfully moved Ebed-melek’s heart to attempt to rescue Jeremiah. This was the God’s intervention part. But we also see that Jeremiah had a part to play as well. He had to place the rags and ropes under his arms. This was where he had to participate in his rescue. What is interesting is that Ebed-melek never got into the muck with Jeremiah. If he had there would have been two stuck in the mud instead of one. Jeremiah had his part to play in his deliverance.

2. There is a message in this for us. When we feel compassion and concern for someone hurting, broken or struggling we may be tempted to crawl into the cistern with them. Unfortunately rather that empowering them to participate in their deliverance we end up sitting in the mud and commiserating with them. Or we may be tempted to take their issues and problems as our own rather than helping them to experience the freedom that comes from participating with God in their deliverance. The simple truth is we need to stay out of people’s cisterns.

3. This is what Jesus did. To set us free and to give us life He like Ebed-melek offers us a rope called salvation and healing. He has done His part through the incarnation. As Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Hebrews 12:1 tells us how to do our part. We are to, “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” In our own faith defining moments we need to understand there is a beautiful dance, a tension, between God’s intervention on our behalf and the part we play in working out our salvation.

Conclusion

1. As a result of his faithfulness Jeremiah is thrown into a cistern and left to die. Spared by a foreigner he is delivered but for his deliverance to take effect he had to receive the help and participate in his rescue. Sometimes a faith defining moment requires God’s intervention and our participation. I invite you today to ask God how you might be an Ebed-melek for someone. At the same time if you are trapped and needing help to get out of the mud call out to God. But remember He may want you to join Him in your deliverance.

Opportunities for Growth:

  • Read Jeremiah 38:1-13 and take time to consider all the characters in this biblical account. With whom do you most identify?
  • Have you ever been called on to make a courageous stand for someone when it wasn’t very popular or would cost you status or position? Or have you chosen to look the other way? What would God be calling you to do today?
  • When you look at all of the brokenness and pain in this world what touches and moves your heart the most? If there is one thing above all others ask God what He would have you to do.
  • Do you have a tendency to get in the mud with those who are struggling and need help? Ask God to show you how to become an Ebed-melek.

May 6, 2018

Elisha & His Servant

This morning in our Faith Defining Moments series we are going to share an eye opening story from 2 Kings 6. One of the surest things I know is God is in the eye opening business. We see this in several places in scripture. Moses had an eye opening experience in the wilderness, the shepherds on the night Jesus was born, Peter, James and John on the Mt. of Transfiguration, the two disciples on the Emmaus Road and Paul had an eye opening moment on the Damascus Road. In the biblical account read today Elisha’s servant had one of the most faith defining and eye opening moments of all.

His eye opening faith defining moment began with a terrifying crisis that was transformed by Elisha’s simple prayer, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17. The truth is all of us are like Elisha’s servant at times and need an eye opening faith defining moment to help us see. Today with the help of Elisha and his servant we too can have a faith defining eye opening experience that can help us when our eyes fail us.

1. During faith defining moments God opens our eyes when we are full of fear and despair.

We need to go easy on Elisha’s servant. Think with me for a moment. He is still wiping the sleepers out of his eyes when he goes out to see what the day is going to be like and “Bam!” he is confronted with the army of the Arameans. I think most of us would be full of fear and despair at that moment. Surrounding him is an army set on his and his master’s destruction.

We ought to be able to identify with him. There are times in life when we are bumping along and all of a sudden we discover the enemy has us surrounded and all appears to be lost. Our enemy may not be a hostile army. Ours may be a serious financial reverse, a health issue, an attack of Satan, or a relational crisis that leaves us only able to see the enemy surrounding us. In that moment we may find ourselves saying as Elisha’s servant, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” 2 Kings 6:15.

The Bible is full of moments like these. Most of us can relate to the psalmist who said, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Psalm 42:9-10. When we feel like this we have a faith defining moment choice. We can choose to believe what Elisha said is true, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6:16. Or we can choose to despair. In the end we need God’s Spirit to open our eyes so that we can see the angel army protecting us. Then we will experience God’s care, provision, grace, mercy and protection. Our eyes are open to see hope in the midst of despair.

2. During faith defining moments God opens our eyes to His miracles and deliverance.

I love the section of the account that says, “Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.” 2 Kings 6:17-18. This is better than an action movie’s script. This is a real life encounter with God’s awesome power to deliver. The literal word for blindness is “bedazzled.” It is similar to the word used when Paul was stuck blind on the road to Damascus. When God bedazzles us we are stopped in our tracks.

The contrast between Elisha and his servant’s response to the threat is important to us on a personal level. Their response in this faith defining moment was determined by their relationship with God. Elisha’s intimate relationship with God allowed his eyes to be open to angels and flaming chariots. His servant’s lack of intimacy with God left him in terror. For us the question is, “Is our God a God of miracles and deliverance or is He weak and powerless?” To help us we need to believe what Paul said in Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

There are great mysteries in God’s miracles and deliverance. Sometimes He delivers miraculously as in this account and spares us suffering and pain. At other times He takes through the fire. What we need to believe is Romans 14:8, “So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Then in the end we know, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…” Psalm 46:1-2. What we can be sure of is this; in our own faith defining moments God will open our eyes to His miracles and deliverance.

3. During faith defining moments God opens our eyes to extend compassion and mercy.

At the end of this account things take an unexpected turn. The hostages become the hostage takers; but more than that those who would have given no mercy receive mercy. In 2 Kings 6:20-22 we read, “After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria. When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?” “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.”

When we think of the God as revealed in the Old Testament this may seem strange. Isn’t He the God who destroys His enemies? This is the logical conclusion if we don’t understanding God’s heart. But the truth is when our eyes are opened we understand that the God of the Old Testament is above all a compassionate God full of mercy and kindness. “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” Micah 7:18.

This account in the Bible is a faith defining eye opening moment meant to teach us that mercy and forgiveness are better than vengeance and hate. Think with me about what happened in Samaria. The King of Aram’s army was subdued, feasted, and sent away free. In Middle Eastern culture the act of feeding them was a powerful demonstration of hospitality and reconciliation. Can you imagine what the soldiers would have told their king when the returned home? What I know is we read in 2 Kings 6:23, “So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.” This act of mercy opened the king’s eyes and the violence stopped. In our day where we think the answer to violence is to return it in spades there is a lesson for us to learn.

Conclusion

There are times in life when it appears as though everything and everyone is against us and we have no way out and no escape. It is in the midst of a faith defining moment like this we need to learn to see with eyes other than our physical ones. God may well be preparing to deliver us in a powerful way if we would look. He ultimately is sovereign over our life circumstances and our enemies. We need to pray, “Open (my) eyes, Lord, so that (I) may see.” 2 Kings 6:17.

Opportunities for Growth:

  • Read 2 Kings 6:8-23 and imagine what Elisha’s servant would have felt before he saw the angels and after.
  • Are you facing a time in life (or have you ever) when all appears to be hopeless? Are you full of fear and despair?
  • Is your God a God of miracles and deliverance or is He weak and powerless?
  • Would you extend compassion and mercy to a defeated enemy? Can you see how this might bring reconciliation?

April 22, 2018

Hannah

Today we continue our “Faith Defining Moments” series with Hannah’s story found in 1 Samuel 1. Hannah was the mother of Samuel, one of Israel’s greatest prophets. Samuel was the prophet God appointed to anoint the young shepherd, David to be the future king of Israel. Above all, Hannah’s story is that of unfulfilled desires. For her it was the deep longing to have a child. In her time barrenness was considered a curse from God.

Unfulfilled desires aren’t limited to barrenness. At one time or another most of us will struggle with deep soul longings that aren’t satisfied. It may be an unfulfilled desire that relates to our family, our job, our health, our dreams. The list can be quite long. Unfulfilled desires bring pain and can produce a crisis of faith. I have seen unfulfilled desires cause a crisis of faith where people became bitter, angry, unbelieving and in the end rejected God.

Today with Hannah’s help I want to show how unfulfilled desires can lead to life transforming faith defining moments. Moments that can move us from despair, doubt, anger, and pain to a life of faith and trust in God. Together let’s see what Hannah has to say to us about how faith defining moments can transform our unfulfilled desires.

1. Unfulfilled desires can be faith defining moments if we are willing to be transparent and honest with God.

Before the Temple was built in Jerusalem Israel worshipped at places like Shiloh. It was to Shiloh that Hannah came. In 1 Samuel 1:12-16 we read a conversation between Eli and Hannah that would appear humorous if it wasn’t filled with so much pain. “As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord… I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

Hannah was a woman totally broken before God. As she knelt before God she poured her grief and pain out without concern for those around. In her we see an honesty and transparency that we don’t often see today. Sadly, in our cultural context we stifle our pain and determine to never let anyone see us sweat. We have been taught to minimize pain.

Many years ago I read a book that transformed my approach to God. The writer and counselor, David Seamands, said when we come before God all too many of us present Him with what he called our “False Self.” Our “False Self” isn’t intentionally deceitful but it presents a false image of our self to God and others. It isn’t transparent or authentic because it fears rejection. Seamands said if we are to experience healing and wholeness we must present our “Real Self” to God. The “Real Self” is brutally honest and transparent. This is the self God can work with and can transform. In that faith defining moment at Shiloh Hannah received a miracle because she was honest and transparent. She did what Hebrews 4:16 says to do, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” As Hannah we need to boldly take our unfulfilled desires to God.

2. Unfulfilled desires become life transforming faith defining moments if we are willing to hand our pain over to God.

When Hannah came before God verse 10 tells us, “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.” You may be in this very place today. There is some desire of your heart that is so painful and so far off that it is breaking your heart. You may even have as Hannah did people around you (as her husband) who offer love and encouragement. But our unfulfilled desire is so painful that it is humanly impossible for anything or anyone to make it better.

Hannah carried the shame, condemnation, ridicule and embarrassment for years. 1 Samuel 1:6-7 says, “Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year.” While the abuse was painful the emptiness Hanna felt was worse. In spite of this Hannah dared in one faith defining moment to take her pain to God. We don’t know how many times she did this but I expect it was often.

Hannah’s actions teach us a very important lesson. If we want God to meet the unfulfilled desires of our heart we need to hand our pain over to Him. We need to do what Peter said, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. What I know is we are more likely to take our unfulfilled desires to God if we believe that He loves us and is full of compassion.

3. Unfulfilled desires can become life transforming faith defining moments if we are willing to submit to God’s will.

While I don’t want to make today a total downer I need to present an alternate ending to Hannah’s story. Haven’t you read stories or seen movies where an alternate ending is given to the main story? The alternate ending I would present is one that may be closer to the reality many of us know. In the alternate ending Hannah never gives birth and remains barren. I present this for one reason. Even the biblical stories don’t always have happy endings. God doesn’t always see fit to answer or to deliver according to our unfulfilled desires. Our story doesn’t always end with tears of joy and rejoicing. The reason is simple; some of us never realize the answer to our unfulfilled desire Before our life is over we will know Hannah’s tears.

The question we need to answer is, “How can we know joy in the midst of tears and unfulfilled desires?” If we are to know joy in this life we must look past the pain of our present situation to the Savior, Jesus Christ. This is critical because it is in Him that we find life and freedom. He boldly says to us, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10. What I can tell you is this isn’t a lie! We can know joy in Him even in the midst of life’s deepest pain and unfulfilled desires.

Tears of joy come in the midst of unfulfilled desires when we look to the cross and the empty tomb. Here the reality that Jesus Christ is the risen Savior sinks into our souls and we are open to the Holy Spirit’s touch. Peter speaking of the Holy Spirit says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3. He has given us what we need, not just to survive but to live. So, in a world of unfulfilled desires we can have hope. In a faith defining moment we can know what the Psalmist meant when he said, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4.

Conclusion

Unfulfilled desires present us with a choice to embrace a faith defining moment where we draw near to God and trust His will for our life. Unfulfilled desires are both the source of great pain in our life and the opening for God to work through a faith defining moment. God answered Hannah in her brokenness and gave her the desire of her heart. After giving her the gift He asked her to offer the gift to His service. Ultimately, everything we have in life including our dreams and desires belong to God. And if we are willing to give them to Him miracles follow.

Opportunities for Growth:

  • Read 1 Samuel 1:1-28. Can you relate to Hannah? Are there unfulfilled desires in your life that bring you great pain?
  • As an act of faith have you with transparency and honest brought your unfulfilled desires to God? If not why not? Why not do so today?
  • Before we are willing to being our pain and unfulfilled desires to God we must believe that He loves us and has compassion for us. Do you believe this to be true about God?
  • Are you willing to trust God to the point that if He never provides you with a miracle for your unfulfilled desires you will still love and follow Him?

April 15, 2018

Ruth & Naomi

If there is one thing I know it’s that Jesus understands our pain. Isaiah prophesied that He would be, “A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…” Isaiah 53:3. Because pain and suffering are a part of life God in His love gave us stories to encourage us and give us hope. One of those stories is Naomi and Ruth’s. Theirs is one of overwhelming and paralyzing loss that was transformed by a faith defining moment.

The choice Ruth made when all appeared hopeless led to a new life. The losses, hopelessness and grief were transformed by a faith defining moment. It ultimately led to a new day not only for Naomi and Ruth and but for us.

As we travel with Naomi and Ruth we will see how God was the one who through a faith defining moment offered them a chance for a new life; one full of hope and security. The reality is just like Ruth and Naomi we will encounter faith defining moments throughout our lifetime. As we encounter them we will have opportunity to see the hand of God transform our heartache and lives. With this in mind let’s see what Ruth and Naomi have to teach us about faith defining moments.

1. Faith Defining Moments surface in the midst of life’s hard places.

The opening scene in the book of Ruth hardly appears to be a faith defining moment. What we see is one tragedy after another. Naomi and Ruth’s experience is the proverbial, “If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all!” The stretch of bad luck began with a famine that drove Naomi and her family from Israel to Moab. From there it went from bad to worse. Death visited her home and Naomi lost her husband and two sons. This left her daughter in laws without husbands. Even in our day losses like these are beyond comprehension.

We get a sense of the depth of Naomi’s pain when she said, “Don’t call me Naomi,”…“Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.” Ruth 1:20-21. Friends, there are times in life when hardship and trouble sweep over us. They may be so bad that those around us in misguided sympathy say as Job’s wife, “Curse God and die!” Job 2:9. During times of great loss, even if we are solidly grounded in God, the pain is still real. We should never minimize it.

In the midst of this desperate place God presented Ruth with a faith defining moment. The moment came when Naomi urged her to return to her family. What Naomi didn’t count on was Ruth’s deep love for her. This love caused Ruth to declare, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17. This faith defining moment set things in motion that would produce miracles for them and for us. What we need to understand from this is faith defining moments come when we least expect them and in ways we can’t predict.

2. Faith Defining Moments may involve costly choices and may not make sense to others.

From Naomi’s perspective Ruth’s response made no sense. There was no good reason for Ruth to stay. She couldn’t have another child to give to Ruth as a husband. This was the common marriage practice of the day. So the kind and loving thing for Naomi to do was send Ruth away. So she told Ruth to go back to her people. From Naomi’s vantage point Ruth would be better off back home. But Ruth would have none of it.

Make no mistake Ruth’s faith defining moment was costly. She has nothing going for her and everything to lose by making this choice to hitch her wagon to Naomi’s. To fully understand the cost we need to understand that Ruth was marginalized, a refugee, a foreigner, socially and sexually vulnerable. In the truest sense of the word she was a woman without hope. Tying herself to a childless and destitute woman made no sense to anyone looking on. But to Ruth the loss of Naomi after all the other losses was too much to take. Ruth’s faith was tied to a love for Naomi and a love for Naomi’s God.

From the world’s standpoint the choices we make in faith defining moments often make no sense. This is why Paul would write, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:14. Things didn’t have to make sense because God was with them and had a plan for them; a plan that would transform them. Whether it makes sense to others doesn’t matter. What really matters is that God said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5.

3. Faith Defining Moments are life transforming and redemptive.

You would be hard pressed to find two women in greater need for transformation and restoration. They were destitute and appeared to be hopeless. Naomi in deep despair thought she had been rejected by God. What neither woman realized at the time was Ruth’s choice to go with Naomi would bring transformation and restoration. God was at work caring for them. All too often we fail to understand how committed God is to our transformation and redemption. Ruth’s decision to stay started a chain reaction of events that transformed Naomi’s grief. Even more amazing is Ruth’s faith defining moment was part of God’s plan for the redemption of the world. Ruth's choice paid off for us.

To fully understand this we need a Cliff Notes version of Ruth. When Naomi and Ruth returned to Israel Boaz, a relative of Naomi, noticed Ruth. He saw Ruth’s faith and courage and asked her to be his wife. The result of this union was a son named Obed who grew up to have a son named Jesse who in turn had a son named David; the great king David who was the ancestor to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So, in one faith defining moment a foreigner and widow became part of Jesus’ family tree!

When we think about it Jesus is the ultimate outsider who came to transform and restore all people and ultimately all things. He came for the Ruth’s and the Naomi’s. Jesus in His great love came to transform and restore the bitter and the broken – you and me. As Paul powerfully stated, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17. When we allow Him to transform us our lives end up being part of a long chain of redemption that stretches all the way back to the beginning and will continue all the way to the end. This is the power of faith defining moments.

Conclusion

What we need to remember is Ruth’s faith defining moment can be ours as well. Paul said of us, “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:12-13. Jesus in His love delivered us and as a result our lives can be transformed and restored. We can say to God, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. (You) will be…my God.” Ruth 1:16.

Opportunities for Growth:

  • Read Ruth entirely in one setting. As you do look to identify faith defining moments. How do they speak to where your life is at today?
  • Are you in the midst of a hard place today? If so take time to draw near to God. Open your heart to the comfort He offers and the direction He provides.
  • Can you identify faith defining moments in your life? What happened when you followed God’s leading? Were there others who didn’t understand?
  • How have faith defining moments transformed your life?